In her beautifully wrought debut, "Holding My Breath," author
Sidura Ludwig crafts a bold yet tender coming-of-age tale of
family, dreams, and the will to follow one's heart.
The only child of a Canadian pharmacist and his wife, Beth Levy
grows up with the understanding that expectations can develop early
in people's lives, "even before they are born." With that, the
little girl senses a responsibility to become the narrator of her
family's history, piecing together snippets of conversation,
half-told stories, and intimations that waft throughout her
Manitoba homestead--her aunt Carrie's resolve to never marry, her
grandmother's static grief over her deceased husband, the
wanderlust of her young and vivacious aunt Sarah, and the death of
her uncle Phil during World War II.
But what she believes and what is true are as disparate as the
three strong Jewish women that occupy Beth's house, life, and
heart. Her mother, Goldie, the oldest sister, harbors a desire for
social status that only results in a tacit disappointment, that
nothing, not even her daughter, can assuage. Carrie, the middle
one, possesses a gentle nature that masks a tragic countenance. The
youngest, Sarah, still a teenager, stands poised to take on the
While Beth seeks out the nurturing comfort of Carrie, who keeps
Uncle Phil's memory alive and bestows upon Beth his love of the
stars and planets, it is the rebellious spirit of Sarah that most
entices the girl. As Beth matures into a young woman, the
combination of her aunts' influences pits the old world of her
mother's strictures against a new one of exploration and escape.
This internal conflict will force Beth to make a difficult choice.
With a voice as distinct as it is compelling, "Holding My Breath"
celebrates the bonds of family and its reassuring traditions as it
affirms the uniqueness of the individual on uncharted paths.
"From the Hardcover edition."
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